The problem addressed
In socio-technical work systems, safety can be considered an emergent property, due to non-linear and symbiotic interactions among technical and human aspects of work. A new perspective on socio-technical safety (referred to as Safety-II) pushes the need to assess and gather meaningful knowledge about normal work, and its effect on safety and productivity. This perspective promotes the development of organizational tools to support capturing, understanding, and exploring the inherent complexity of everyday work activities.
This project aims to develop an ontology-based framework for gathering and making interpretive sense of organizational performance, relying on the use of the Functional Resonance Analysis Method (FRAM). In particular, the ontology-based framework will support a formal representation to guide knowledge collection for FRAM analyses, which will overcome traditional top-down theoretical assessment relying on constructivism-oriented artificial varieties of work, i.e. work-as-imagined (WAI), towards a bottom-up approach focused on normal operations, i.e. work-as-done (WAD). The project will rely on an innovative gamified approach for knowledge gathering in order to isolate functional areas of concern, and the need for associated safety performance metrics: the Human-Centred Safety Crowd-Sensitive Indicators, the H(CS)2I. These latter will support sharp-end workers to critically assess their own work activity, helping middle managers and top managers to interpret weak signals (both positive and negative) about system performance to support organisational decision-making at different organizational levels. Validating the indicators’ framework in the process industry domain, the proposed methodological outcome will be then adaptable for different enterprise domains, in line with Directive 2014/95/EU about non-financial reporting, supporting new national procedures and benchmarking.
The overall aim of the project is to develop a framework grounded on considering safety as an emergent property, and specifically focussed on front-line workers. The research questions are as follows:
How can the concepts of Safety-II support the definition of relevant indicators that allow the measurement of safety performance?
How should a framework for identifying safety indicators be developed to address the functional properties of work based on data gathered directly from sharp-end operators?
How can this new framework for the development of safety indicators address existing concerns of bias, variation and concerns around benchmarking?
How can the use of new methodological and technological means in the development and implementation of safety indicators provide for better transparency and communication of safety performance to internal and external organisational stakeholders?
What are the organisational outcomes evident from the implementation of the framework which demonstrate improved management of safety performance indicators?
The project will thus provide a framework for defining holistic safety indicators, through the use of FRAM modelling, an ontology, gamification, and will test its validity in the process industry.
The disseminated framework to define the H(CS)2I indicators will be beneficial to stakeholders at different organizational levels and with regulators through provision of a methodological and decision-support tool for proactive indicators. The framework supports:
organisational knowledge of real work practices in line with Safety II;
director/top-management understanding of business process functionality implications on OHS over traditional measurement views of risk management and compliance;
a basis for business process re-engineering to improve prevention proactively for middle management;
safety engagement, risk awareness and commitment through front-line workers participation;
new regulator benchmarking capability across enterprise sectors due to the case study method and participant feedback sought.
The H(CS)2I project will last 18 months and will consist of five tasks.
Task 1: Project Management (Task Leader: ENEA)
Task 2: Developing Knowledge of Industrial Production Processes – Work as Imagined WAI (Task Leader: Middlesex University London)
Task 3: Gamified Collection of Work-As-Done (WAD) knowledge (Task Leader: ENEA)
Task 4: FRAM analysis: Definition of H(CS)2I indicators (Task Leader: Sapienza University of Rome)
Task 5: Framework validation and dissemination (Task Leader: Middlesex University London)
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